July 25, 2004
To Whom it May Concern,
As an active investor for over 35 years, I am very concerned about this proposed rule change. Over this period, I have worked with numerous brokers, the vast majority of which gave poor investment advice either through ignorance, a lack of understanding of my overall investment portfolio, or simply self-interest. Early in my investment life I took their advice and usually was the sorrier for it. Later on I was savvy enough to know that in most cases their advice was not appropriate for my situation. In fact, over these same years, many friends and business associates inexperienced in investing have repeated their broker's recommendations to me that they took as gospel and which, in most cases, were clearly not appropriate for their situation.
The "solely incidental" provision and the warning that it is a brokerage account will both be ineffective. Even if "solely incidental" could be properly defined, the inexperienced investor themselves will (and currently often do) push the broker for advice because they assume the broker knows more than they do. Even highly educated professionals in other fields simply have no interest in learning about investing and the broker therefore becomes the de facto "expert".
If anything, these investors need to be encouraged to see trained, certified advisors. The broker should ask if the person has recently consulted an advisor and, if not, should be referred to a certified planner either within or external to the brokerage. Only if the customer declines this in writing, should the broker be allowed to dispense advice unless it applies to assistance in selecting a particular available security from within a specific class requested by the customer.
Proper advice is the first bastion of protection for the individual investor. Please strengthen the likelihood of this occurring, not lessen it.
214 Mountain Meadows Road
Boulder, CO 80302